Knowing what a detail-oriented head coach Urban Meyer is, it's pretty remarkable that his Ohio State Buckeyes are on a four-year run of increasing penalties per game.
Meyer is probably willing to live with a certain amount of flags because he wants his guys playing aggressive, unafraid to make a mistake but at the same time, tightening up the self-discipline and accountability for dumb penalties could be an opportunity after the Buckeyes led the Big Ten in both penalties per game and penalty yards per game in 2017, ranking 100th and 114th, respectively, in both categories nationally.
Behold the horror:
|YEAR||PENALTIES PER GAME||NATL RANK||PENALTY YARDS PER GAME||NATL RANK|
As illustrated, the 2017 squad posted the worst penalty yards per game of the Meyer era and fell just short of tying the 2012 group's standard of 7.0 flags per game.
Look, teams can win games while committing a ton of penalties, just ask any one of the dominant Miami Hurricanes squads from back in the day but it stands to reason reducing them creates more margin for error throughout the course of a game.
Scanning Ohio State's two losses in 2017, the Buckeyes committed nine penalties for 87 yards against Oklahoma and nine for 95 yards in Iowa City.
Additionally, Meyer's squad tallied at least eight flags in seven of 14 games. Conversely, the Buckeyes committed less than five penalties in only two games. Against Michigan State the good guys were flagged just twice for 27 yards and in the season finale against USC, they registered only three penalties for 30 yards.
Again, nobody would argue penalties were the sole reason, or maybe even a key reason, why the Buckeyes got smoked by Oklahoma and Iowa but cutting down on penalties seems like a good idea no matter how you slice it.
Will Ohio State make a successful effort to reduce the self-inflicted pain this fall? The trend says no but if you're an optimist, the law of averages says yes.